As a service to readers, periodically the Salary Sage will feature jobs that are really hot. What is a hot job?
- A job that is in high demand,
- A job that is well paid,
- A job that has a bright future,
- A job that you don't have to be lucky, wealthy, or a genius to get,
- A job that I consider interesting, challenging and important,
- A job that doesn't have working conditions that would turn most people off.
To launch this series, I am starting with a health care job -- the Cardiovascular Technologist.
WHAT DO THEY DO?
Hopefully, unlike me, you have never seen a cardiac catheter from the business end. But if you ever do, you will be both thankful for, and impressed by, the person with the title Cardiovascular Technologist on their name badge who is operating the equipment.
This person can usually be found side-by-side with the doctors and nurses in the cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab) which is an highly specialized operating room loaded with specialized equipment used to perform minimally invasive procedures associated with the heart. Such procedures include recordings that determine the heart's structure and function (such as X-rays and angiograms) as well as the implantation of devices to remove blockages after heart attacks (stents). They do this by Inserting small catheters (tubes) through a needle into the blood vessels and into the heart.
Click here for a virtual tour of a cardiac cath lab and a complete description of what is involved --> http://www.heartsite.com/html/cardiac_cath.html#what
HOW DO YOU BECOME ONE?
The majority of technologists complete a 2-year junior or community college program, but 4-year programs are increasingly available. As of 2006, there were 31 programs accredited in cardiovascular technology across the United States. Those who successfully complete one of these accredited programs are eligible to obtain the professional license and certification necessary for employment. The first year is dedicated to core courses and is followed by a second year of specialized instruction in the field.
WHAT MAKES THIS A HOT JOB?
Over the next 10 years, the number of cardiovascular techs is expected to increase by over 25%. Growth will occur as the population ages and more people experience heart disease and complications of the heart and vascular system. Due to advances in medicine and greater public awareness, signs of vascular disease can be detected earlier, creating demand for cardiovascular technologists and technicians to perform various diagnostic procedures.
In addition, this growth will occur virtually everywhere in the nation so cardiovascular techs can choose where they wish to live. Flexible hours are also a real option since many hospitals are happy to employ cardiovascular techs by the day (per diem) or part-time.
Many institutions structure the occupation with multiple levels, each having an increasing amount of responsibility and pay. Today, cardiovascular techs earn between $35 per hour ($70,000 per year) and $50 per hour ($100,000 per year) depending on the level. Technologists can also advance into supervisory or management positions which can lead to much more responsibility and higher pay.
WHAT'S THE DOWN SIDE?
Probably the biggest down-side associated with this job is related to working conditions. Cardiovascular technologists spend a lot of time walking and standing. Heavy lifting may be involved to move equipment or transfer patients. Workers wear protective clothing and masks while conducting procedures. Those who work in catheterization laboratories often face stressful situations because they are in close contact with patients having serious heart ailments; some of whom may encounter complications with life-or-death implications.
Technologists generally work a 5-day, 40-hour week that may include weekends. Those in catheterization laboratories tend to work longer hours and may work evenings. They also may be on call during the night and on weekends.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In general, I am hugely bullish on health care professions. Not only will they be in increasingly high demand for the foreseeable future, but they are well paid, interesting, challenging and important jobs. They offer a unique blend of interpersonal contact with physicians, co-workers, patients, and families. The bring the employee in contact with new technology, offer an opportunity to help people during a time of need, and usually come with excellent job security, benefits, and opportunity for advancement. So for those who are willing to overcome some of the physical demands, becoming a cardiovascular tech is a really hot job.